Special City Council Meeting: March 12, 2014

The council held a special meeting tonight to set the procedure and dates for interviewing candidates for city manager and auditor.

Mayor Elliott opens the meeting by saying that the purpose of the public hearing is to discuss traits and characteristics of next city manager

Deb Chause, Executive Director of House of Hope. Asks council to keep the best interests of the poorest members of the community foremost in mind. New CM must understand that new housing for the poorest in the community is good for the community in many ways. Poor people don’t often speak out so they must rely on leaders of the community to protect their interests.

Bill Daley, a tax payer of Lowell. Says we can’t hire a bleeding heart liberal to be the city manager. Everyone knows the school system is the biggest drain on the city. I can’t see a politician running the city; we need a professional. I can’t see any of these liberals running the city.

Patrick Farmer, president of CNAG. Next CM should be a professional, one with experience running a place like Lowell with budget experience. Also someone willing to go into the neighborhoods to hear what people have to say. Not everyone can attend city council meetings. We need to keep moving in the direction we were heading. The recession didn’t hit us as hard as other places because of professional city manager.

Amy Saber-Farmer, resident of Centralville. People deserve a professional who will work with the neighborhood groups.

Dan MacNeil of downtown. The last time we had a politician as a city manager our bond rating went into the toilet. I urge you not to make that mistake again. Hire someone with education, training and experience in managing a city.

James Favreau, a veteran who votes in every election. Says the council set this up the right way. He’s on a fixed income and doesn’t want his taxes going up more. I voted for you to run the city. You’re doing a good job. Don’t knock it down.

Ann Marie Page of Centralville and Nancy Judge of Highlands. Ann Marie speaks. We’re hoping for someone educated and experienced in the field of managing, city planning, financing, labor relations, public safety and affordable housing. Someone with good business sense who will see existing projects home to conclusion. Someone who will put together a smart team. We all have to be team players. Someone who is a mover and a shaker who realizes Lowell is a diverse community made up of many neighborhoods.

Alexandra Tuglibyele of downtown. Gives council some of her biographical information and urges councilors to hire a professional city manager.

Angel Suero (sp?). Resident of Lowell also an immigrant. Should hire someone with experience managing a large city with a very diverse population.

Madeleine Nash of Coalition for Better Acre. CBA has had a great relationship with past city manager and hopes that can continue.
That’s all the citizen input.

Councilor Mercier suggests that there be two nights for interviews with three candidates per night. Suggests each interview be 90 minutes with 5 minute openings and closings plus 10 minutes per councilor. Councilor Belanger says he likes Councilor Mercier’s approach but it might make it a very late night so maybe only two per night. Councilor Kennedy wants to add a fourth person to the auditor candidate pool since one has dropped out. He also says three 90 minute interviews might not be fair to the last person being interviewed that night. Councilor Martin concurs with the fatigue factor concern; need a third night if 10 minutes each. There’s additional discussion about timing.

Final motion is 10 minute opening statement, 10 minutes per councilor, 5 minute closing statement. Passes unanimously.

Looks like they’re going to try to schedule interviews on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the last week of March (March 25, 26, and 27) with Saturday, March 29 as the backup date. Interviews on week nights will begin at 6pm. Human Relations director will report to the council at next Tuesday’s meeting on the status of interview arrangements.

Now invite people to speak on city auditor position. No one speaks. Mayor suggests interview Monday but several councilors won’t be available because it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Having difficulty picking a date next week. Now they moving interviews to the first week in April. Wednesday, April 2 and Thursday, April 3 beginning at 6pm will be the auditor interviews.

Adjourn at 8:13pm

5 Responses to Special City Council Meeting: March 12, 2014

  1. Mary Sky Mac says:

    CNAG—Centralville Neighborhood Action Group? Thanks for the report, Richard Howe.

  2. Joe S. says:

    There was a question raised relative to payment of travel expenses for the finalists, and the HR manager apparently responded it would be a City expense. However, the council went on to imply that if a person didn’t want to pay the travel expense, he could request a remote interview. I don’t know what the precendent has been for City final interviews, but private industry would certainly pick up the expense. For the city council to take a “pay your own way” position only furthers the appearance of a done deal.

  3. Chris H. says:

    @ Joe S.:

    It’s not universal that cities generally pay for travel expenses, but I believe most larger cities do. I believe paying for all reasonable expenses is considered a “best practice.” I’ve also known of cities paying part of travel, or paying for ticket but not room/board, etc, to show good faith to the candidates while showing fiscal conservatism to voters.

    You’re right in that it is a difference between public/private sectors.

  4. Judith Durant says:

    If the CC really wanted public input into this process, they would have held a public hearing before voting for their top five candidates. I don’t know if the list of finalists would have been different, but they could have considered the feedback while making their choices.

  5. Chris H. says:

    I actually would argue the proper place for public engagement (I like “engagement” better than “input”) was before they advertised. That way, they could take the knowledge they gained into consideration when writing the ad (and also directing the HR department do additional “headhunting” type of recruitment).

    I suppose the counterargument is that nothing would have changed, but we would have been a couple weeks behind during a critical time of the year.